8 minutes

Black Friday Under the Scope: 2020 Recap

It’s almost time for Black Friday, the most anticipated day in the retail calendar, but let’s have a little recap on last year’s event…

The 2020 holiday season was the biggest ever for digital sales, with £768bn in global sales, a phenomenal 50% increase from the previous year. Google’s insights from Black Friday and Cyber weekend last year have landed in our laps and we were eager to share them with you. Has last year’s most successful peak season to date set a president for this year to follow suit and top it? Who knows! But one thing we’re sure of like every year, e-commerce is showing zero signs of slowing down anytime soon!

Let’s look at the key insights from 2020.

UK overview

The Google report highlights that consumers are engaging with Christmas shopping earlier (as early as September!) which contributed to a large chunk of 2020’s holiday sales falling between Sept-Nov. Value of online sales also saw a significant spike with online sales in November alone reaching £14.1bn (an 80.3% increase on the previous year!) – Google puts the increases down to shoppers being unable to visit non essential stores for their Christmas shopping so having no choice but to turn to the web.

Apparel – UK trends

One thing I always find particularly interesting when looking back/ reflecting on a key period of time in the retail calendar, is which products and brands come up top in terms of most sold. The pandemic undeniably created a real drive for lounge wear products but when it came to last year’s Christmas gift shopping from Black Friday week here’s what Google’s report found more specifically:

Top products sold:
1. Nike kids Air Force 1
2. UGG Scuffette II
3. Nike Sportswear Fleece trousers
4. Calvin Klein trunks
5. Personalised Grey Penguin fleece robe
6. New Look Christmas Jumper
7. Timberland biker boots
8. Nike Airmax 270
9. Nike Air Force 1 Mens
10. Oversized hoodie

Top 10 brands
1. Nike
2. Adidas
3. New Look
4. Boohoo
6. Next
7. The North Face
8. River Island
9. Barbour
10. ASOS

I personally think the lounge wear and comfort trend is here to stay this year round, with much of the UK still being predominantly home based in a bit of a hybrid between office/home working. However, that being said, brands who focus stock on the “partywear” industry, including products like heels, suits and occasion dresses will also see a huge boost this year as work Christmas parties and winter weddings are back! Weddings have actually seen a huge uplift in search on Google Trends in the last month and consumers are loving the idea of dressing up and indulging in new outfits when making up for lost occasions from last winter!

Key insights from 2020


  • More than any other Black Friday in memory, the product itself rather than the offer or price is the most important deciding factor for consumers.
  • COVID-19 has shifted shoppers buying intentions from ‘want’ to ‘need’.
  • Search interest for “ethical brands” and “ethical online shopping” grew 300% and 600% respectively.
  • Rise of unpredictable queries: 2020 was also definitely the year of uncertainty with searches for “candle making kits” up 300%, and for “patio heaters” up by 600%.

Purchasing behaviour

  • Convenience became a key differentiator for clients: curbside pickup and same-day delivery became staples for many people. Global searches for “along my route” (+1000%) and “curbside pickup” (+3000%) both soared.
  • Peak 2020 was the right time to acquire new customers: 40% of consumers have tried new brands in 2020.
  • Two-fifths of Europeans admitted to spending more time on the internet this year, especially the older generations. The pandemic has facilitated a vital turning point to removing such barriers.

Peaking categories

  • By the end of Cyber Week, shoppers had, on average, completed 51% of their Holiday shopping.
  • Health, wellbeing and hygiene: 49% of global respondents actively look for products or services that help them live a healthier lifestyle.
  • Fashion: conversion rates skyrocketed in Fashion (+90%) along with the number of items per order (+65%).
  • The average order value dropped, meaning that shoppers are stocking up on good deals.
  • This year, travel categories will likely get a boost: Luggage, outdoor gear (sports and fitness), vacation wear, travel gadgets (electronics).

Planning for a successful Black Friday 2021…

Whether you feel you’re well prepared for peak or if you’re a little overwhelmed knowing what to check, the checklists Google provided within the report may be of some use. They’re super brief and handy to reference quickly so I’ve linked those below for you!

Budgets Checklist

Google Ads Checklist

Merchant Centre Checklist

Smart Bidding Campaigns Checklist

As always, if there’s anything you feel myself or the team can help with, you can reach us using the form here or connect with me directly on LinkedIn!